It was just a simple text message, “He’s a liar”. At the time of its arrival on her cellphone, Sarah* didn’t know its value. But, as the days unfolded and the story of his deceit was revealed, that little text message became a miracle. A gift from God. A sign from the angels that her life was about to change, radically, for the better.
When I first spoke with her, she couldn’t see the miracle of that text message. She could only feel its pain. She couldn’t see the gift of knowledge it presented or the freedom it represented. She didn’t want to see it was a gift for a better future. She wanted his love to be true. She wanted him to be true. She wanted time to rewind and take her back to time before the text message arrived, to time before everything went wrong.
“It’s all my fault,” she said. “If only I had….” And then, she listed of the hundred things she could have done differently to keep his love true.
“There is nothing you could have done differently that would have changed him,” I told her. “Tall. Short. Fat. Skinny. Blond. Brunette. Green eyes. Blue eyes. Fair-skinned. Dark-skinned. You could have dyed your hair pink and stood on your head spitting nickles. There is nothing you could have done to change him or make his love true. He is the lie.”
And that’s the challenge of loving a narcissist or a sociopath. There is nothing we can do to change who they are and what they’re doing. Lies are the lifeblood of their trade. They are subject matter experts in human manipulation and they spend their lives honing their craft. They don’t care if they hurt people. People are the fridges of their supply. Open the door, take out what you need and close it until you need more. Keeping their victims chilling on ice is part of their game. Keeping their victims locked up, their minds frozen over ponds of fear and disbelief, that is what they need to ensure the victim doesn’t see the light of their betrayal. They do what they want, get what they need however they can because what they want is all that counts.
For Sarah, the pain of his betrayal has left her reeling. They met when she was eighteen. He was three years older. A fireman. Tall. Strong. Silent. He’s had over five years to weave his web of lies around her, in and out of her psyche. He’s had five years to contort reality, distort perceptions and distend her belief in herself into a bloated bladder of vile pus oozing with self-deprecation and disbelief.
And now she must heal.
“Why would he do this? He said he loved me? Why? Why? Why?” she asked as every woman and man asks when awakened to the truth of their lies.
“Because he can. Because he must. Because he does. It’s what he does. It’s who he is,” I told her. “Lies are like breathing to him. Protecting his ego at all costs is his purpose and in his mind, there is no higher purpose, no greater calling. It is all he can do.”
For Sarah, facing the truth is a raw, jagged journey through the minefield of the past where he gave her the ‘gift’ of his love and wrapped her up in the invibisble bonds of terror of his lies.
Sarah is lucky. That text message arrived two months before they were to share their vows. Two months before they made a commitment to love each other, ’til death do us part.
“Your love was true, Sarah. “I told her as we sat in her parents living room, the dining room table covered in spread sheets and bank statements. Her mother and father have been unravelling the financial nightmare of his deceit. It’s something tangible, factual that they can hang onto. What they don’t know how to do is bring her peace of mind. Ease the burden of the truth she must face in order to heal.
“Your love was true. His was always the lie. There is no truth in anything he said. No truth in telling you you’re beautiful to telling you you’re ugly. There is no truth in his ‘I love you’ and no truth in his ‘I hate you’. He does not contain the truth. You do. And the truth is, he has betrayed you. He has hurt you and you can never say good-bye.”
“But I want to say good-bye,” she wailed. “I want to tell him how much he hurt me. How this has harmed me.”
“The only good-bye will be the slamming of door when you go back to the house to pack up your things. When you leave, slam the door and know, that is the most deadening sound he will ever hear. It is the only sound you ever want to give him.”
“I have to go pick up my wedding dress this week. He’s paying me back for all the wedding expenses. He wants the dress.”
“Good,” I said. “After you get the money, and if it’s a cheque make sure it clears the bank, give him back the dress. But first, take out your scapbooking scissors and cut it up into a thousand pieces.”
“But I promised to return the dress,” she said.
“And you will be returning the dress. Nobody said anything about what shape it had to be in.”
She looked at me, her gentle blue eyes opened wide with surprised. For the first time since we began talking two hours before, she smiled. “Ah, now that would be sweet revenge.” She paused and laughed, her eyes lighting up, “I’ll do it!”
Yes, she will do it. She will heal and grow and recover and reclaim what was lost. And in that journey she will embrace the miracle of the text message that saved her life from growing darker and darker as she began to fade into the weave of a narcissist’s lies blocking the light from penetrating her mind.
Miracles are free.
In the gift of their arrival, grace descends as we open up to the truth of their revelations. With grace, we are invited to slip into the healing waters of love so that we can set ourselves free of lies and deception and dance with joy, in harmony with the truth around us. Miracles are free and so are we.
*Not her real name.